Album review: Wire – 10:20

Wire have been producing scratchy abrasive arty intelligent pop/punk since the late 70s, and have therefore an impressive and formidable back-catalogue. With that inevitably comes an equally impressive cutting-room floor, where songs that didn’t make it to the disc in question languish, and in the wrong hands could’ve been lost forever.

No so with Wire, who’ve kept life in many of these songs by using them as live staples, but now they’ve been brought together and given the recorded status they deserve. Some appear on earlier albums in a different form and have been reimagined, others exist just as a ringing tinnitus thrill in the ears of a gig goer.

An uninitiated, listening to this band for the first time might justifiably think that if these are the songs they rejected, how good must be the ones they decided to keep? (Spoiler – very good indeed).

This is a beautiful collection (originally intended as a Record Store Day release) and revisits the spiky days of the post-punk and melodic ‘Chairs Missing’ period ( ‘The Art of Persistence’ sounds like a livelier sibling of ‘Outdoor Miner’ with the same ear-worm qualities), to 1988’s ‘A Bell is a Cup…’ era (Boiling Boy).

Despite these tracks having fell through the cracks of several decades, as a cohesive whole they couldn’t be more relevant or contemporary, and show, dare I say it their more melodic side (while still retaining an unpolished authenticity), which is no bad thing (though I’ve always loved it when they go berzerk industrial). Like the stuff itself, Wire can do all kinds of things, it can be soft and pliable and transmit a myriad of sensations and stimuli, it doesn’t have to always be barbed.

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